About the moment I got my V home I started looking into luggage options. At first I looked towards the classic aluminum panniers that you see on pretty much every BMW F800GS. Then I saw how much those boxes cost and instantly moved my focus to soft luggage.
Even though I was set on soft luggage, I decided I still wanted a pannier rack. Partly to enable more secure mounting of the bags and also to allow me to mount hard boxes if I one day decide to bite the bullet and buy some.
I eventually settled on the Touratech Pannier Rack Kit, which includes a rack for each side and a turn signal bracket.
I went with this rack because it seemed to be the most sturdy one available as well as the most "clean" or "put together" outfit available. The fit of the rack is excellent. I didn't have to bend or muscle anything into place and everything went together nicely. The instructions are rather terrible, but its not too complicated of an ordeal. I did have a slight problem when first mounting the rack. One of the brackets slightly rubbed on the plastics of the bike under the passenger grab rails. It was a tiny issue but it irritated me so I exchanged the rack for a different kit, which did not rub when mounted. Another thing worth noting is the fact that even though the racks do not interfere with re-mounting you passenger grab rails, the handles will be wobbly if you use only the hardware included with the kit. When mounting the racks you must remove the bushings that keep your passenger grab bars in place and nothing is supplied to replace these. So, if you intend to retain your grab rails you will either have to cut the factory bushings in half or grind down some easily available 1/4" spacers to the correct outside diameter. I did the later and it works perfectly.
The turn signal bracket also serves as the cross brace for the racks. It looks very clean and is one of the primary reasons I went for this rack. You will have some naked wires but they are easily dressed up with some flex tube and a few grommets which I found at a diesel shop. I believe they are for air filters but they work perfectly to plug the holes where the signals originally mounted.
After I had my racks squared away I had to find something to put on them. I initially tried Ortlieb Waterproof Saddlebags. These are amazing bags and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a good soft pannier. Unfortunately, the universal version of these bags fits very poorly on the V and the rack compatible version of these bags will not fit on a Touratech rack. So I had to send them back and find something else. I eventually settled on the Wolfman Monarch Pass bags. I had a few other Wolfman products already and had good luck with them so I gave these a shot.
There really isn't much to say about these bags. They are soft saddle bags with plastic inserts for stiffness and are designed to be used with a pannier rack, virtually any rack. They do just that and they do it very well. All of the straps are over-sized so you can get them to fit just about anything and situate them how you please. They take awhile to mount the first time, but once you get them set, mounting and dismounting is a snap. When mounting these bags on the V I would recommend wrapping a few pieces of single wrap around the rear strap, lashing it to the passenger grab rails. The angular and aggressive styling of the saddle can lead to this strap wandering a bit.
The construction quality is great and most of the straps are entirely removable should you need to replace them. The bags are not waterproof, but I find that using waterproof ditty sacks is so convenient for packing and unpacking that the lack of a waterproof saddlebag is a non issue. At first I was concerned the bags would flop around at speed when not fully loaded, but I found that they don't thrash around too much and can be made rock solid with the addition of a bungee net. If I were just bee-bopping around town though, I would feel comfortable leaving them mounted to the bike and empty.
I took this set-up through British Columbia and Northern Washington for a 2 day 700 mile trip and everything performed wonderfully. Everything stayed in place and secure. I found the handles of the bags to be super handy for strapping my helmet to, tucking my gloves into, or even strapping a precious jug of chocolate milk.